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Plan Accordingly When Combi Steam Ovens are Utilized

The shift to combi steam ovens and how they are utilized has created a requirement that the restaurant designer, operator and owner change their space and utility planning to successfully implement this enhanced cooking technology. Two major aspects must be considered to avoid costly changes in implementation and costly repairs of the ovens within a very short period of time.

First and foremost, the steam oven manufacturers’ minimum feed-water quality requirements must be reviewed. 

Published water quality standards have to be met to maintain the manufacturers’ warranty and virtually all municipal water supplies will not meet these standards.  Most of the time the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), chloride, sulfate, hardness, alkalinity, chlorine or chloramine levels will exceed the manufacturers’ water quality standard and will require a water treatment system to be installed.

If the TDS, hardness and chloride levels meet the standard and the only areas outside the range is chlorine or chloramines, a simple FXI or QTI system with IsoNet® will suffice to meet the requirements.  However, if the TDS, hardness and chloride levels are outside the ranges, then the only option is to apply an OptiPure OP Series Reverse Osmosis system to remove these dissolved minerals and provide water quality that meets the manufacturers’ standard. Filters are physically incapable of reducing TDS, hardness and chloride levels.

When an OptiPure Reverse Osmosis system is used to protect your combi oven from scale and corrosion, it is crucial to provide the appropriate space and utilities in your restaurant design and planning. 

For example, all reverse osmosis systems produce water slowly and therefore, will require a tank for storage of treated water. A re-pressurization pump is required to provide consistent water pressure and flow rate to the oven. Also, in some cases, where the feed-water pressure is very low, a booster pump may be Creative OptiPure RO installrequired which makes a 120V power outlet in close proximity to the RO system a necessity.  In addition, all RO systems utilize a small amount of water to carry the rejected contaminants to the drain.  Without a reject flow to drain, the membranes will quickly plug or foul with a build-up of contaminants greatly reducing membrane performance and life.

 In summary, all Reverse Osmosis systems require:

  • adequate space for the processor and storage tank,
  • easy access for service and maintenance,
  • and necessary utilities including feed-water supply, 120VAC power for the pumps and a drain for the “reject” water.

Certainly water quality is not the only factor that can contribute to combi steam oven corrosion.  The operator has a responsibility to properly maintain and operate the oven per the manufacturers’ recommendations. For example, cleaning the oven improperly with wire brushes and metallic scrapers, or using harsh acid cleaners like Lime-Away or CLR are major sources of corrosion in stainless steel ovens.  The types of food cooked and pattern of use will also impact the potential for corrosion.  If the oven is continuously operated in 100% steam, it will corrode faster than a combi oven that is operated part of the time in a combi or convection mode and is in idle mode during non-use times. 

It is imperative that restaurant designers and consultants learn about the manufacturers’ water quality requirements and understand the water treatment systems necessary to protect the ovens and design the space accordingly. 

It is also important for specifiers, manufacturers’ reps, distributors and dealers to understand these requirements and educate customers early in the purchasing process to properly plan for and utilize the appropriate water treatment to protect the ovens.  Otherwise, operators will be incorrectly assuming that the manufacturers’ combi oven is of inferior quality when in fact it, is the corrosive tendency of the water.  It is equally important that users operate and maintain the combi ovens according to the manufacturers’ instructions and maintain the water filtration equipment to meet the water quality standards.  This will insure a longer and more trouble-free oven life and maximize your investment.

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